Footballers are more likely to suffer from brain health problems after the age of 65 than the rest of the population, reveals the English SCORES study published on Friday and carried out by researchers from the University of East Anglia which is based on tests conducted online to remotely assess cognitive functions and monitor brain development.
Some 145 former professional footballers took part. Fifty-five of them are over 65, compared to 27 in the test sample. According to the study’s findings, former footballers between the ages of 40 and 50 perform better than the general population, but the trend reverses with age.
” It’s when they hit 65 that things start to go downhill.”, commented Dr. Michael Grey, who is leading the study. ” They perform the worst in areas like reaction time, executive functions (which in particular make it possible to manage and control non-routine situations or to perform several things at the same time, editor’s note) or spatialization. These are obviously early warning signs of deteriorating brain health.”.
This new study is in line with the findings of a survey conducted by the University of Glasgow which found that former footballers were three and a half times more likely than the general population to die from a neurodegenerative disease such as dementia or Parkinson’s disease. Research of this type has raised awareness of the impact of sports practices on brain health and has notably led to calls for better protection of footballers, whetherhigh-frequency heading play puts you at risk of concussions.